Thursday, May 19, 2011

Community vs. Goliath, again

I have written before about the development planned for the old convent site across the street from our house. The community’s struggle against the developers has been a series of disappointments and losses as city staffers, committees and councillors repeatedly capitulate to the demands of Ashcroft, the private company developing the site.

Once again we find the interests of the community being threatened by the developer’s plans.

On Tuesday, May 24, the City of Ottawa Planning Committee will meet to discuss the proposed “Vehicular Access through the Byron Avenue Linear Park to the Proposed Development at 90 Richmond Road, 114 Richmond Road and 380 Leighton Terrace”. In other words – that despite being told all along that they would not be allowed to cut through the public green space and pedestrian/bike path on the south side of the property, Ashcroft wants to do just that. And it looks like the city is prepared to let them.

Cutting across Byron’s bike path is proposed as being “the only way to preserve the row of mature maple trees and the integrity of the overall public accessible landscaped area”. The report also claims it will “minimize the direct impact” on the five homes siding or facing a small road (Shannon Street) that may be the alternate point of entry to the development site.

I fully sympathize with Shannon Street residents. They are looking at the possibility of having their narrow, dead-end street widened and having the traffic on their street significantly increased. It is not fair to them, especially since they were told at the beginning that their street would not be used. But as we’ve seen with Ashcroft and the city, promises and plans can easily be disregarded.

Reading over the report regarding this proposal, it’s interesting that they argue that the impact to Byron’s path would be “minimal” since the parking on site is capped at 65 spaces. But when they defend not using Shannon street, they point out that access to this street will include garbage trucks and site visitors.

If the city had held Ashcroft to the density restrictions mandated in the community plan for this area we would not be in this position now.

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